Published Online: 25 NOV 2011
Copyright © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.
The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization
How to Cite
Senior, D. 2011. John, Saint. The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization.
- Published Online: 25 NOV 2011
The earliest reference to John is found in Paul's Letter to the Galatians where, along with James and Cephas, he is called one of the “acknowledged pillars” of the Jerusalem church who endorse Paul's and Barnabas' mission to the Gentiles (Gal. 2:9–10). The Synoptic Gospels, particularly Mark and Matthew, identify John as the “son of Zebedee” and the brother of James (Mark 1:19–20). Both brothers receive the nickname “Boanerges,” or “Sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17), which perhaps refers to their impulsive character, indicated in John's impatience with an “unauthorized” exorcist (Mark 9:38; Luke 9:49) or his suggestion to Jesus that the disciples command fire to come down and consume the inhospitable Samaritans (Luke 9:54–55). John seems to be one of Jesus' closest followers. John is among the first called by Jesus by the Sea of Galilee where he is identified as a fisherman working with his father Zebedee and some hired hands (Mark 1:19–20; Matt. 4:21–22); he is also listed among the “Twelve” (Matt. 10:2). He witnesses the healing of Simon's mother-in-law in Capernaum (Mark 1:29) and the raising of Jairus' daughter from the dead (Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51). Jesus invites John, along with Peter and James, to accompany him at the transfiguration (Mark 9:2; Matt. 17:1; Luke 9:28) and during Jesus' anguished prayer in Gethsemane (Mark 14:33; Matt. 26:37). In Luke's account Jesus directs Peter and John to prepare his final Passover (Luke 22:8). In concert with Peter, James, and Andrew, John questions Jesus about the time of the parousia (Mark 13:3). In a less favorable light, along with his brother James, he seeks a position of power in Jesus' coming kingdom, earning his Master's rebuke and the anger of his fellow disciples (see Mark 10:35–45). The brothers are promised by Jesus that they would “drink the cup that [Jesus] would drink” (Mark 10:39).
- John, Saint;
- synoptic gospels, John as the “son of zebedee”;
- healing of Simon's mother-in-law, in capernaum;
- John, the “beloved disciple” in the fourth gospel